A T-Mobile employee is facing prosecution after selling personal details of thousands of British customers to rival companies in an alleged major breach of data protection laws.
In a statement, the mobile phone operator – which is part of Deutsche Telekom AG – said it had contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after discovering an employee was passing on the information, and it believed the investigation would result in a prosecution.
The practice is illegal under section 55 of the Data Protection Act.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said the data was sold for “substantial amounts of money” to brokers working for other mobile phone companies, Reuters reports.
The privacy watchdog said it planned to prosecute and would push for jail terms for anyone convicted. It said staff sold details relating to customers’ phone contracts, including their names and addresses and contract expiry dates.
Rival companies bought the information and used it to make cold calls to the customers offering them a new contract with a new network, the ICO said.
“Many people will have wondered why and how they are being contacted by someone they do not know just before their existing phone contract is about to expire,” Graham said in a statement. “We are considering the evidence with a view to prosecuting those responsible and I am keen to go much further and close down the entire unlawful industry in personal data.”
T-Mobile said: “While it is deeply regrettable that customer information has been misappropriated in this way, we have proactively supported the ICO to help stamp out what is a problem for the whole industry.”